SPOTLIGHT: Before I Forget by Simon Leonard

Anna’s Room

This is Anna’s room, you can see the window looks
out over the park, and the traffic.

And in this room I know there is little decoration –
she looks around without embarrassment,
leads me towards the window –
just the summer noise of children rehearsing
the limits of their games, and an art class painting
of someone classical, without arms, just

the winter brittle light to watch well-padded walkers
through the park; mothers pacing their attention to their burdens
of semi-permanent will, either straggling behind,
or forcing rumbustious ahead. And the building is Art Nouveau,

although the skylight is boarded over, so. . .
but, with a lamp, you never know, minor changes. . .
Trails of slow laughter infecting with their fall
the ever-expanding space love occupies.

For this was Anna’s room.
She tells it, and me, how
summer smoke rises dry beneath the window;
snowfall spreads in a streetlight;
a life spilled out through its mesh of days,
reducing the whole vast future to a not.

Anna’s room looks out over further peripheries.
And today it will not be let.

In a minor sort of midweek crisis

Young man in midweek crisis
watches electrically flat-lit faces
reflected in the carriage window,
sees his among those faces
as just another passenger, passing stations
in the direction of Chatillon and a job
that is just a job, with time to kill,
towards that red and flat-lit face in its forties.

The one that got away

They said it was a slow day in personal fitness.
They said it was a lorry going by.

But when love walked in wearing his Tuesday suit,
the photocopiers started reproducing, immaculately,
perfect versions of the same vacancy;
the coffee machine anticipated its twenty minute whine
of life by a temporary miracle
and the stacked trays in the staff canteen erupted
in tremulous applause.

They said it was office party syndrome.
They said it couldn’t outlast June.

But you escaped the high fidelity
of the computer’s one green eye,
if not scandal in the toilets,
and you flew with love through factory land,
down the motorway in cloud like a car,
past the service stations, the corrugated installations,
giant models on hoardings, inviting speculation
from semi-interest stirring by,
towards the airport and a dream of release.

They say you sold time shares in Lanzarote.
They say at least your tan’s your own;
these things were never meant to last —
a desperate confusion of needs and last chances,
and they can only imagine how it damages the skin.

They say love woke up after a month,
left you with the hotel bill
and Sangria stains on the memory.
Of course he went back to his wife.

Where you went we don’t really know,
but we’re expecting an update. 

Goodbye to the Sea

Not knowing. Never knowing.
Here and not knowing. Escaping,
but always here. Remaining
on this wreck of lavish harshness.

Here. But every time less. Wanting and unwanting.
Every lesson the same lesson; not learning.
Dissolute wrathing. Wrathful loving.
In the always never knowing
what there is to say. What there is to remember.

What remains:

The missing tides. The here and now.
Now not here.

Here, but every time less. Wanting and unwanting.
A slipping of time into tense. Said and spent,
a voice lending itself. Tide subsiding.
The ear’s imagining
fills in the form it needs to hear.

Every lesson the same lesson of
grey breathing skies:
Wanting and unwanting in the waiting rain
Wanting with the rain – dissolute wrathing
before breaking
on a sufferance of rock,
wrathful loving before another dissolution.

Here, but every time less. Remaining with what remains.
In a trance of going and not getting anywhere
— the tideless sea. Chafing, at the end of breath.
Breathing the same desolate assurance
against this wreck of green. The lavish harshness.
I want. I want. I want.

Drowning in myself

Words find their place;
dropouts from a dance
happier at the bar — jagged words,
ill-fitting teeth considering surgery,
a more immediate form of happiness.
Like a needle snuggling
into the vein and the backblood blossoming,
words rush ecstatic:
fire in a corridor.

Or a key screaming in the lock,
grinding rage, mechanically
contained in metal.
Etched on a face, broken teeth,
bursting on lips, promises breathing
to be released,
like fire in a corridor,
like the world suddenly
absorbed by water.
Like the swell of terror
at what is about to be lost
when ears are sealed,
the voice swallowing.
Like the need to be understood,
words find their place.


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